Vancouver’s Battle Against Climate Change: The Climate Emergency Parking Program3 min read
From smoke-filled summers due to forest fires to rising water levels along the seawall, Vancouver residents have been privy to the effects of the climate crisis for decades now, with the ramifications only worsening every passing year. This gave rise to Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) in 2020, of which the Climate Emergency Parking Program is an integral part.
In 2019, more than 100,000 people took it to the streets of Vancouver, demanding bold climate justice to build a better, sustainable world for future generations. As a reaction, the city council declared a climate emergency and approved an urgent emergency response.
Let’s have a look at what the program is and how it benefits the city.
What Is the Climate Emergency Parking Program?
In Vancouver, the second-largest source of carbon emission are vehicles that run on diesel and gas, which account for 40% of the total emissions.
The Climate Emergency Parking Program is a two-pronged move developed to reduce emissions and fund the CEAP. It outlines a yearly paid parking plan, with a starting fee of $45 for vehicles parked overnight (12 AM – 7 AM) on the curbside. Additionally, new gas-powered vehicles bought after 2022 will be required to pay an annual pollution charge, ranging from $500 – $1000
Here are some of the benefits that this plan brings to the table.
The city council requires $230 million to fully fund the CEAP. Implementing the parking program will bring in $44 – $72 million to Vancouver in four years, covering approximately 25% of the funds required for the CEAP.
Moreover, parking space revenue in Vancouver has always been underwhelming. With the introduction of this parking program, the city will be able to augment that diminishing return.
Better community engagement
The parking program will encourage sustainable transportation options such as biking, public transit, walking, thus bolstering community accessibility and engagement. Ultimately, it’ll help Vancouver foster a thriving and regenerative community.
Curbside parking takes up approximately 30% of street space in Vancouver. However, only 10% of the city’s residential streets require parking permits. By applying an exorbitant price tag on overnight roadside parking for the rest of the city’s streets, the program will discourage people from occupying parking spaces and instead use other forms of transport. The council can then convert this freed-up space into –
- Improved safety
- Shared mobility
- Wider sidewalks
- Priority parking
- Green infrastructure
- Public spaces
- Other community benefits
Wider adoption of EVs
The ultimate purpose of the annual pollution charge is to push people towards buying electric vehicles. With more EVs on the road, carbon emissions will drop significantly in the coming years. The CEAP also proposes building accessible electric vehicle charging stations across the city. With sustainable electric generation through solar panels and hydroelectricity, Vancouver will be able to build an end-to-end, carbon-free mobility ecosystem.
Keep in mind that:
- Though the overnight charge is $45, lower-income households would only have to pay $5 yearly
- The annual pollution charge for moderately polluting new vehicles – small SUVs and sporty sedans – will be $500/year
- The annual pollution charge for highly polluting new vehicles – pick-up trucks, sports cars, large SUVs – will be $1000/year
- No annual pollution charge for the economy, electric, and hybrid vehicles
- No annual pollution charge for specialized vehicles for wheelchairs
- Overnight visitors will have to pay $3 per night.
It may be tough for some people to swallow the thought of paying more for parking. However, Vancouver’s emissions trends are not dipping fast enough. Therefore, with proper implementation of the CEAP and the parking program, the city can achieve reduced emissions, increased EV adoption, and broader acceptance of public, bike, and on-foot transit.